Power Tillers to Landless and Dead Mega Fraud in Bihar

Should development translate into acute oppression of  peasants who are already on the brink? Ideally no, but that is precisely what is happening in Bihar. The marginal farmers in Bihar have been issued power tillers but only on paper. In collusion with corrupt officials, middlemen are having a ball. False documents in the name of dead people are presented for claiming damages to crops and the spoils of this loot are distributed between officials and middlemen.
The bizarre and glaring way in which peasants are robbed of their rightful claims has come to light in Nalanda. In the Ben sub-division of the district, one fine morning the peasants were served bank notices for non-repayment of loans. The notice revealed that peasants had taken loans for power tillers but surprisingly, none of the peasants ever knew when they bought these tillers or when they applied for loans and when the loans were granted! All of them owe, on paper, Rs. 60,000 for power tillers they never bought. The farmers raised their voices but to no avail. The police swung into action once the matter was raised in the ‘Janata Darbar’ of the District Magistrate (DM). Four middlemen were nabbed in the matter and sent to jail. In the whole matter, the complicity of bank officials, middlemen and the Circle Office (CO) has come to light. Loans for power tillers had been issued in the names of people who do not even own land.
Fifty such cases have come to light where loans were fraudulently drawn on forged documents and many more are expected to come to light. The police have already apprehended a few workers of Harsh Power Tiller Agency in Biharsharif. It has been found that officials of State Bank of India (SBI), Punjab National Bank (PNB) and Bihar Rural Bank colluded to effect this mega fraud. Their misadventure has been confirmed by the Deputy Superintendent of Police in Ben. A couple of men in CO office in Ben – Manoj Kumar and Shahid – have been found to be dubiously involved in this murky practice.
Even Sushila Devi, a widow and resident of Maheshpur village under Ben sub-division, was not spared and a village crook misled her into signing a blank paper which he then used to get a loan sanctioned in her name when she does not even own land. Hers is not an isolated case −– many more have been duped the same way. Sanjay Agrawal, DM of Nalanda, has assured that none of the perpetrators would be spared and they would be brought to book.  Sudama Mahato, the district’s Agriculture Officer, said that it was unlawful in the first place, on part of the banks, to have released loans without his approval. This racket is not confined to Nalanda alone. It has become endemic in the state and the worst sufferers are the marginal and landlesss peasants.

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